Track & Field Set to Compete at NCAA Indoors
BATON ROUGE – Twenty LSU Track & Field athletes have made the trip to College Station, Texas, to close out their 2017 indoor season at the NCAA Division I Indoor Track & Field Championships that return to Texas A&M’s Gilliam Indoor Track Stadium for the first time since 2011 as the two-day meet will run Friday and Saturday.
Live results of the two days of competition at the NCAA Indoor Championships will be provided by Flash Results as fans can follow event-by-event coverage of LSU’s athletes at http://flashresults.com.
ESPN3.com will also provide live streaming video during both days of the championship as online coverage will begin at 5:25 p.m. CT on Friday and 3:55 p.m. CT on Saturday at http://ESPN3.com. ESPN2 will also televise a two-hour tape-delay broadcast of the 2017 NCAA Division I Indoor Track & Field Championships to a national television audience on Sunday from 6-8 p.m. CT.
The Tigers climbed the team trophy podium at the NCAA Indoor Championships a year ago when they scored 28 points to finish fourth nationally at the Birmingham Crossplex in Birmingham, Alabama. They have taken home a top-10 men’s finish at the NCAA Indoor Championships in eight of the last nine seasons. The Lady Tigers have finished in the Top 10 nationally in 13 of the last 15 seasons since the 2002 season. They tied for 14th place in the final women’s team standings a year ago while scoring 15 points.
Friday’s action kicks off for LSU’s athletes at 6 p.m. CT with events on the track running through 8:55 p.m. Saturday’s events pick up at 2 p.m. CT in the men’s weight throw followed by finals on the track at 4:20 p.m.
LSU’s teams will no doubt finish among the NCAA’s best once again as the Tigers will be represented by six qualifiers and the Lady Tigers will feature one of the largest contingents in the event with 13 qualifiers for the championship. In fact, LSU’s women have qualified their most entries into the NCAA Indoor Championships in six years when they last featured 14 scoring opportunities in 2011.
The Tigers will arrive at the Gilliam Indoor Track Stadium this week with their share of firepower as they feature a national leader, three top-10 ranked performers nationally and the defending NCAA Indoor Champions in the 4x400-meter relay that are poised to contend for top honors once again at the national meet.
Senior Johnnie Jackson, who just earned All-SEC honors as the SEC Indoor Silver Medalist in the weight throw, tops the NCAA list in the event this season with a lifetime best of 77 feet, 3 ¾ inches to claim his first trip to the NCAA Championships. Also making his first appearance at the NCAA Indoor Championships is Blair Henderson, who was also an SEC Indoor Silver Medalist in the 800 meters last weekend and owns the LSU’s school record of 1 minute, 47.34 seconds in his specialty event.
Senior Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake, the reigning NCAA Indoor Silver Medalist in the 200-meter dash, will line up in the event at the national meet for the second-straight season after qualifying with a best of 20.49 for the 2017 season. His qualifying time of 20.49 in the 200 meters is an indoor personal best in the event and ranks No. 4 in the NCAA field. He was also added in the 60-meter dash on Monday.
Also a returning NCAA Indoor Bronze Medalist from a year ago, senior Michael Cherry makes his return to the national meet in the men’s 400 meters with the seventh-fastest time in the field at 45.84.
Cherry and Mitchell-Blake are two legs on LSU’s defending champion relay team also featuring senior LaMar Bruton and sophomore Jaron Flournoy that has run 3:05.45 for the No. 8-ranked time in the country heading into the meet. The Tigers have actually won each of the last three NCAA titles in the 4x400-meter relay as they have also been crowned back-to-back NCAA Outdoor Champions in 2015 and 2016.
LSU’s women are led into NCAA competition by three newly-crowned SEC Indoor Champions and five entries ranking among the Top 5 nationally as they boast their largest indoor representation in six seasons.
Impressively, the Lady Tigers feature one-third of the 16 qualifiers in the 60-meter dash as senior Jada Martin, juniors Aleia Hobbs and Mikiah Brisco, sophomore Kortnei Johnson and freshman Cassondra Hall are set to compete. Hobbs leads the group as the SEC Indoor Champion in the event as she is coming off a personal-best performance in the conference final where she clocked 7.18 for the No. 2 time in the country.
Brisco is tied for No. 4 in the field with a best this season of 7.19 ahead of Johnson in the No. 9 spot nationally with a personal best of 7.24 in 2017. Martin and Hall are also among the qualifiers in the event after clocking identical personal bests of 7.26 at the SEC meet. Martin was also crowned the SEC Indoor Champion in the 200 meters with her seasonal best of 22.92 for the nation’s eighth-fastest time, while Johnson earned the final qualifying spot in the field with her seasonal best of 23.26 ahead of the meet.
Brisco returns to the NCAA Indoor Championships after earning a pair of All-America honors a year ago when she was the SEC Indoor Bronze Medalist in the 60 meters and placed fifth nationally in the 60-meter hurdles as a sophomore in 2016. She is also an NCAA-title contender in the sprint hurdles with a personal-best time of 7.98 that ranks third this season.
Two Lady Tigers will line up in the 800 meters after earning All-SEC honors as silver medalists last weekend as freshman Ruby Stauber finished as the SEC runner-up in the 800 meters and senior Morgan Schuetz earned second place in the mile final with a school-record time of 4:38.45. Schuetz is set to make her third-straight NCAA appearance in the 800 meters with a best this season of 2:03.01, while Stauber has run 2:03.87.
Also making her NCAA Championships debut in her first season with the Lady Tigers is sophomore Jordan McClendon, who qualified 16th into the meet with a seasonal best of 69-3 ¼ in the weight throw.
The Lady Tigers also feature two of the five fastest relay teams in the NCAA in both the 4x400-meter relay and distance medley relay as they will contest both events at the same NCAA Championships for the first time in the team’s history.
Jones anchored LSU to the SEC Indoor title in the women’s 4x400 relay with their fastest time of the season at 3:31.50 as she teamed with Martin, junior Kymber Payne and sophomore Rachel Misher for the No. 5 time in the NCAA field. Jones has also run on LSU’s fastest DMR this season when she teamed with Schuetz, Stauber and sophomore Hollie Parker to run a school record of 10:57.66 for the No. 4 time in the country.
After wrapping up the 2017 indoor season at the NCAA Division I Indoor Track & Field Championships in College Station this weekend, the Tigers and Lady Tigers will move straight into the outdoor season next week on March 17-18 as they open up at the Louisiana Classics being held at Louisiana-Lafayette’s Ragin’ Cajuns Track Complex.
LSU’s 2017 NCAA Indoor Championships Qualifiers
Athlete, Event, Top Time/Mark (NCAA Rank)
Michael Cherry, 400 Meters, 45.84 (7)
Blair Henderson, 800 Meters, 1:47.34 (13)
Johnnie Jackson, Weight Throw, 77-3 ¾ (1)
Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake, 60 Meters, 6.65 (T14)
Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake, 200 Meters, 20.49 (4)
Flournoy, Cherry, Mitchell-Blake, Bruton; 4x400 relay; 3:05.45 (8)
Athlete, Event, Top Time/Mark (NCAA Rank)
Mikiah Brisco, 60 Meters, 7.18 (T4)
Mikiah Brisco, 60 Hurdles, 7.98 (T3)
Cassondra Hall, 60 Meters, 7.26 (T11)
Aleia Hobbs, 60 Meters, 7.18 (T2)
Kortnei Johnson, 60 Meters, 7.24 (9)
Kortnei Johnson, 200 Meters, 23.26 (16)
Jada Martin, 60 Meters, 60 Meters (T11)
Jada Martin, 200 Meters, 22.92 (8)
Jordan McClendon, Weight Throw, 69-3 ¼ (16)
Morgan Schuetz, 800 Meters, 2:03.01 (6)
Ruby Stauber, 800 Meters, 2:03.87 (10)
Payne, Martin, Misher, Jones; 4x400 Relay; 3:31.50 (5)
Stauber, Jones, Parker, Schuetz; Distance Medley Relay; 10:57.66 (4)